March is Fraud Prevention Month: beware of callers demanding immediate payment for utilities
March is Fraud Prevention Month and Utilities Kingston is sharing tips to help protect residents and businesses from utility scams.
Our public education program reminds our community: utility customers are targets for scams at the door, over the phone and through the Internet. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to shut the door, hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection. You can always call us to confirm the truth of any sales pitch.
Utility companies across Canada are seeing an increase in callers posing as utility representatives and demanding immediate payment for utilities. Follow Utilities Kingston on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on known utility scams.
Customers are reportedly receiving phone calls from scammers using a variety of different numbers. Those contacted are being threatened with having their utility services disconnected if they do not make a payment.
If you receive a message, text or phone call from someone posing as a utility representative and threatening to disconnect your utility services, do not respond to it – contact your utility company directly. Utilities Kingston customers can call 613-546-0000, Monday to Friday, from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.
If you receive a suspicious call:
- Do not provide any personal information, including Utilities Kingston or credit card account numbers.
- Collect any information possible about the caller.
- Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. This agency collects information on fraud and works closely with police to solve these crimes.
- If you become a victim of fraud through monetary loss, call Kingston Police at 613-549-4660.
- Utilities Kingston does not place calls from, or solicit calls to, a 1-800 or 1-888 number.
- Utilities Kingston requests overdue accounts be paid via Paymentus, its third-party credit card payment provider, or by contacting credit and collections at 613-546-1181, extension 2278.
Fraud Prevention Month is spearheaded by the Competition Bureau.
More tips to help you recognize, reject and report fraud
Learn how to recognize, reject and report fraud with the following tips.
- Malicious emails may be from an unknown sender, contain typos, or irrelevant attachments and web links, or portray a sense of urgency.
- Scammers claiming to be from your utility company may call and threaten to disconnect utility services unless immediate payment is made. Utilities Kingston does not collect payment over the phone. The Utilities Kingston website lists ways to pay your utility bill, including through pre-authorized debit, banking, credit card (through Paymentus), or by mail.
- Utilities Kingston will never ask for personal financial or account information in an email and will not place outbound calls from 1-800 numbers.
- Utilities Kingston employees and contractors carry identification and you should always ask to see it.
- In general, be extra cautious about any unsolicited calls, emails or mailings.
- Don’t be afraid to shut the door, hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection.
- Don’t open suspicious emails and attachments, and use anti-virus software on your computer. Hover over URLs before opening links.
- Don’t purchase a product or service without carefully checking out the product, service and company.
- Don’t disclose personal information about your finances, bank accounts, credit cards, utility bills, social insurance and driver’s licence numbers to any business that can’t prove it is legitimate.
- Don’t attempt to provide payment over the phone, via Bitcoin or gift cards. Utilities Kingston does not accept these forms of payment.
- At the door, always make sure you get a business card and look at the salesperson’s ID badge first. Ask to see their City-issued licence to sell door-to-door in Kingston.
- Remember, you have the right to ask salespeople to leave your property.
- If someone comes to your door to sell restricted products and services, don’t be afraid to shut the door and call Consumer Protection Ontario at 1-800-889-9768.
- If you receive a suspicious phone call, email, or visit at your door from someone claiming to represent Utilities Kingston, hang up and call to let the utility company know. A customer service representative is available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by calling 613-546-0000.
- If you're in doubt about a communication received from Utilities Kingston, give the utility a call and they’ll confirm it.
- If people refuse to leave your property, or you become a victim of fraud through monetary loss, report it to Kingston Police online or by calling 613-549-4660.
- Report incidents to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. This agency collects information on fraud and works closely with police to solve these crimes.